This year, I'll be traveling for work throughout much of the holiday season. Ice skating in Central Park, browsing the Union Square Christmas Market and battling the crowds at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree might not be part of my December this year, which is making me feel a little blue.
So instead of mourning the loss of Winter in NYC I've been soaking up every bit of this wonderful season called Fall and let me tell ya something - so far it's giving summer a run for it's money.
The tourists have yet to descend on midtown and the anxiety of holiday shopping is still seemingly far away. The leaves are changing colors and everything has a golden-hue to it. Roasted vegetable season is HERE and I have my eye on a cranberry margarita recipe that ensures this tequila-loving girl doesn't need to give up on her beverage of choice as the cooler temperatures settle in.
Yeah, life is pretty good right now.
And while I may not be able to sing "Tis the Season To Be Jolly" while drinking hot chocolate and decorating gingerbread houses in December...'Tis the Season for some other great things this October.
TIS THE SEASON FOR WALKING HOME THROUGH CENTRAL PARK
It's perfect weather for walking across the park instead of taking the bus and I've been doing it every chance that I get. Other days, if I have time, I'll walk the three miles home from work.
On a recent walk home, I was completely zoned out and listening to music when the guy next to me started motioning for me to look down over a short stone wall. I bent over and was surprised to see 5 or 6 raccoons! They were somewhat scary, somewhat cute and a sizable crowd quickly gathered to check them out.
I've heard that raccoons can be pretty personable, and I swear that these raccoons were posing for all of the cameras and cell-phones snapping pictures of them. One lady was even feeding them hard boiled eggs!
They were getting really close to people and it started to freak me out as more and more gathered so I got out of there quickly after getting a few pictures of my own.
Another afternoon as I crossed the park, I saw the perfect patch of sunshine under one of my favorite trees. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to lay in the sun listening to music for a little while. I almost dozed off!
TIS THE SEASON FOR NEW SHOWS
I was so excited to attend a preview performance of the new production of Tick, Tick...Boom! at Theatre Row (playing at the Acorn Theater).
I've had the Tick, Tick...Boom! soundtrack memorized since I discovered it back in high school, during the heyday of my musical theater obsession. When I found out that RENT's creator Jonathan Larson had penned an autobiographical musical before the success of RENT, I quickly learned every lyric.
The new production is wonderful for what it is - but Tick, Tick...Boom! is simply not of the same caliber as RENT. Awkward transitions from song to scene are inescapable given the script, but the trio on stage power through and create a thoroughly enjoyable show.
It was great seeing a production of Tick, Tick...Boom! because so many of the songs that I grew up memorizing the lyrics to suddenly took on so much more context and meaning within the larger story.
Also interesting to note throughout the show were the subtle connections between RENT and Tick, Tick...Boom! Michael, the best friend who gives up on his acting career and "sells out" to the corporate life seems a lot like Benny from RENT. And Susan is a dancer, a la Mimi!
Even the structure of the play is similar to RENT, with Jon narrating portions of it and telephone call interludes from parents and agents.
I'm a huge fan of both George Salazar and Nick Blaemire who star as Michael and Jon respectively. The triumvirate is completed by Ciara Renèe as Susan.
The flaws of Tick, Tick...Boom! are all but forgotten when the final song is sung by the trio - belting words that perhaps resonate even more today than they did when they were written by Larson in 1990:
Why do we follow leaders who never lead?
Why does it take catastrophe to start a revolution?
If we're so free, tell me why?
Someone tell me why
So many people bleed?
Tick, Tick...Boom! plays at the Acorn Theater at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street near 9th Avenue) through November 20th. You can buy tickets here.
Speaking of new shows - this weekend I'm PUMPED to go and see Josh Groban in his Broadway debut in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. I'm going with my grandparents and younger cousin and I can't wait. I have no idea what the musical is about - but it could be about ANYTHING and I'd thoroughly enjoy it as long as I get to listen to that voice for 2 hours and 30 minutes...
TIS THE SEASON FOR HOCKEY
That's right, hockey season is officially ON. I somehow snagged tickets to the Rangers season opener which happened to be against my team, the New York Islanders. Isn't it weird how possessive people can be about sports teams? But I am totally guilty - MY Islanders, MY team, MY boys - all things I have said with 100% seriousness.
The Islander's lost the game, but Lana and I were the real winners because we saw each other for the first time in MONTHS and had a great time in amazing seats.
I'm so excited to share my hockey-loving ways with a few friends who have never seen a hockey game live. We're headed the Barclays Center on Friday night and I hope that they love it as much as I do!
TIS THE SEASON FOR ROASTED VEGETABLES
My past two weekends have been spent cranking up the volume on Spotify and cranking up the heat on the oven to roast up ALL the fall vegetables. Kabocha squash, Calabaza squash, mushrooms, green beans, eggplant, sweet potatoes - I am in veg-heaven. Paired with kale and quinoa, I could happily eat this every night of the fall/winter.
I alternate between drizzling balsamic glaze, tahini and Dijon vinaigrette all over my plate - sometimes all three if I'm feeling crazy.
Do you need help deciphering all the delicious fall squashes out on supermarket shelves? Can't tell the difference between a butternut squash and a spaghetti squash to save your life? I have a #SquashGoals Guide for that!
TIS THE SEASON FOR NEW FITNESS GOALS
I will admit that my desire to workout has been seriously slacking. My shins are bothering me a lot and my motivation when the alarm goes off every morning is non-existent.
I'm going to be using the cold winter months as a deterrent from running too much - I want to give my legs a break so that I'm ready to rock and roll for the New York City Marathon in 2017. The colder weather will also mean an unappealing indoor pool situation and a miserable bike riding experience...
Needless to say, I'm on the hunt for my next challenge, and I think it might be Crossfit! Stay tuned for more.
TIS THE SEASON FOR BOUGIE MOVIE NIGHTS
Movies are a huge deal to most people. Something that they could talk about for HOURS. That's never a good place for small talk to go as far as I'm concerned, because I am not a movie person. I don't watch them at home, and I rarely watch them in theaters. I bet if you named 5 movies, chances are I would have maybe seen one. And that's being generous.
That being said, there are movies that I like to see - usually ones that are based off of books I've read. A group of us recently decided to check out Girl On A Train and one of my friends suggested we go to the Village 7 theater. Being a non-movie-goer, I had no input to offer on theaters and was happy with whatever spot the group picked.
I grumbled a little to myself about paying $18 for a movie ticket, but this is Manhattan and I assumed that was just the going rate these days. Turns out, I'm an idiot. We weren't just "going to the movies." We were making a magical night out of the movies.
When we walked into the theater I was astounded by the fact that each chair was a freaking SOFA. I swear, this thing was huge. And it reclines. All the way. I was curled up in the fetal position during one scary part of the film and I was no where near touching anyone around me. There are only around 54 seats in the entire theater and you have SO MUCH ROOM it's insane.
Pair that with the fact that we had brought in our own boxed wine, popcorn, and chocolate covered almonds and I am now 100% a movie person.
TIS THE SEASON FOR COZY COFFEE DATES
Before checking out Tick, Tick...Boom! I met a friend for coffee and a bite to eat. Since the theater was in a bit of a strange location, I didn't have a go-to spot picked out. Naturally, I did some research and couldn't have been happier with our choice of Rustic Table.
It was cozy inside at our seat at the bar and my Americano was delicious. I ordered the side of roasted vegetables which came in a little skillet and cost only $3! There was zucchini, chick peas, sweet potatoes, squash and mushrooms and I was 100% satisfied.
My friend ordered the banana date smoothie that was also delicious and at $6.50, the price was right!
I also recently spent some time blogging at Cafe Jax - where they serve a killer (though pricey) dirty chai latte and Underwest donuts! Cafe Jax has it's own charm - with scattered tables, desks and couches that are always packed with students doing their work. They have WiFi and it's just the right amount of quiet. You can softly talk to friends but everyone is respectful of the fact that almost everyone is trying to get shit done. Many people go there to hunker down for the day.
I'm excited to explore some more cute, cozy coffee shops while we're in Portland, Maine for Halloween weekend and throughout the fall and winter.
TIS THE SEASON FOR PUMPKIN EVERYTHING
True Life: I've never ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte.
But recently, I did sample and rate 11 different pumpkin beers while eating pumpkin truffles and vegan pumpkin donuts.
It was actually really fun to use the beer rating cards to write down what we thought of each beer as we tasted it. Among the beers we tried were Southern Tier, Two Roads, Captain Lawrence, Coney Island, UFO, McKenzie's Hard Cider, Dogfish Head, Greenport and more.
What did I find out? I don't like ANY pumpkin beer. OOOPS. It was still a fun night!
Another night we got together at a friends apartment to plan our Halloween weekend trip to Portland and feasted on the delicious pumpkin mac and cheese that she made using this recipe from The Lemon Bowl.
So the moral of the story is I'm changing the lyrics y'all.
Tis the season to be jolly, fall la la la la la la la fallllll.